The Importance Of Position – Part 3

Guide To Winning Poker (21)

  • We want to look to exploit opponents playing too weakly out of position
  • When we’re out of position, we want to play stronger
  • Players tend to play too strongly in position though, overestimating their advantages

We Want To Take Advantage Of This Weak Play Ourselves

We’ve been talking about the tendency for players to give up on hands easier out of position, and also to look to take down more hands in position, and we can sum this all up by saying that the tendency is to play tighter out of position and looser in position. This really isn’t justified in itself though and in fact we can look to exploit both these tendencies. So we’re always looking to formulate our strategies in order to react to the tendencies of our opponents, and it isn’t going to be hard to figure out what to do in this case.

As it turns out, being looser and more aggressive in position is justified if our opponents are playing nitty out of position, so this very popular strategy in position to take advantage of this actually works very well. Any time a player plays too tight, we definitely want to look to punish them for it, and being passive here is usually a mistake. The only time that it’s correct would be in cases where opponents tend to loosen up later in the hand.

For instance if I knew that a player would very often lead out on the turn if I checked back the flop to him or her, and then tend to give up when played back at, then that would become the better line to use. As a general rule though, most of the time we’ll just be looking to take the pot down here where we can often make an instant profit by doing so. We do want to be alert to other lines that may be more profitable though. Grinder will attack passivity but doesn’t have the time nor the knowledge to look for these alternate lines, and when he’s playing us, we’re aware of not exposing ourselves by making the mistakes that would let him abuse us even more later in the hand anyway.

How Do We Play More Strongly Out Of Position?

So since we don’t want to play too weakly out of position, what’s the best course of action going to be? Well that depends on the opponent, although in our example we know that Grinder will be aggressive, so as a general rule we want to let him blow off his chips. However that won’t be too difficult as he is very prone to doing so and no matter what we do he’s going to look to be the aggressor in a lot of situations anyway.

So starting out, we can either lead out in spots, look to check and call, look to check and fold when we decide that’s best, or look to check raise him. What we do is going to depend on what we have, but even more so, it will depend on how he reacts to various lines we can take. We want to look at his tendencies throughout the hand though and not just what he likes to do on a given betting round, as we want to look to make the most money that we can from him.

What About Our Lesser Amount Of Pot Control Out Of Position?

Now he’s thinking, and you may be thinking as well, that he’s in position so he’s got more pot control than we do, and therefore he can get paid more when he has the better hand, and lose less when we have it. This may be true, but the real answer to this question is only if he ends up outplaying us. Our playing correctly is actually a counter strategy to the issue of pot control, meaning that we can dictate the situations where we can allow the pot to be built according to when we have the likely better hands and if done correctly, this will not only negate his positional advantage, it will end up turning the tables on him and put us in the driver’s seat instead.

Now this is the part that Grinder has the most trouble with, and he will strongly protest that his positional advantage trumps any kind of strategy that we can come up with against it. This is where he and players like him, millions like him in fact, will run out of arguments and start challenging us to heads up matches where we’re out of position every hand. If we really know what we’re doing, and you will as you follow along with these lessons, we have the means to make him very sorry for taking us on.

We Have More Pot Control Out Of Position Than We May Think

The thing is, given two players of relatively equal playing strength, the player in position can indeed use the fact he’s acting last to gain real advantages. Let’s assume Grinder is playing his friend Imitator, and he’s called that because his entire game is an imitation of players he’s seen playing in videos online. This is true of Grinder as well, so they both play pretty similarly.

Now Imitator has a strong tendency to check out of position, whereas Grinder has a strong tendency to bet in position, so when either of them has a good hand, Grinder will tend to get paid off more for it. Imitator doesn’t want to telegraph his good hands and he’s too timid to look to balance his ranges by including enough air, so he’s relegated to playing passively generally. When they both have a good hand, by the same means, Grinder will get paid more since he’s more in control of how much money will go into the pot in these cases than Imitator is out of position.

So this is the main reason why position is seen as important, and I don’t want you to think that it isn’t, but we can come up with some good strategies to counteract this natural advantage. In fact we can even influence the size of the pot more than we normally would by paying attention to the actions of our opponents and looking to get them to help us build it more when it’s to our advantage to do so, and look to limit it when that’s what we want to do. So for instance if I have a good hand and I know that Grinder is likely to raise me if I lead out, and bet if I check, then I can build the pot more by betting out.

If You Play Well Out Of Position, This Can Make A Big Difference

In fact a lot of the perceived advantages of position are based upon the person out of position making more mistakes, and to be fair it’s certainly tougher to play out of position since you’re acting first. Anytime you act first you have the ability to make the first mistake, so with a higher potential for mistake making, it will certainly be tougher. That doesn’t mean that we can’t play well out of position and end up being the one that makes less mistakes, and that’s exactly what we’re looking to do here.

So in this case we know that our opponent will play more aggressively than normal in position against us, and that’s a good opportunity right there. Some players, generally weaker ones, will allow us to exploit them by leading out and having them fold too much, although Grinder isn’t one of them. We do need to be aware of this tendency and explore its potential if we don’t have enough stats on a particular player to know. You might have a lot of hands on someone but they might not have seen this style much, as most players will almost always look to check out of position.

So Players Often Play Badly In Postion

So if I’m in that situation in a heads up match for instance I’ll test them out to see how they react to being led into a lot, and if they fold too much, then I’ve got something that I can work with. If they end up playing aggressively and raising me a lot, well the worst thing that can happen is I’ve now set them up for my doing that with real hands and making them pay for it. So I’ve invested a little now, and either way I’ve got some good information that I can use later in the match to my advantage.

So I don’t necessarily want to just check out of position to Grinder, although that may end up being the best way to go, depending on how he plays. We’re actually hoping that he’s a raise monkey as that will lead to us getting the most value out of our hands, instead of just relying on him to do the betting for us. So I’ve got a real hand here, and I’m then looking to the way he reacts to being led into versus how he plays when checked to. If he raises a lot here, and only usually fires out one barrel on the flop and then looks to check it down, then the better line is probably going to be to bet here, as that will get more money in the pot. This may not necessarily be true as it depends on the actual frequencies but you get the point here.

So as you can see, positional advantages result from players making mistakes, and people out of position tend to make more of them, and this is exactly where the positional advantage comes from. However, we just don’t want to make an even bigger mistake here, which is to just assume we’re at a disadvantage and roll over when out of position, like most players do. We’ll instead be looking to do what we always do, which is to look to spot the tendencies of our opponents to make mistakes, and then look to take advantage of them, regardless of what position we are in. This will have us doing better both with and without position, and if our play is superior enough, we can even make a profit in both situations.

Ken’s Guide To Winning Poker – Index

Starting With A Solid Foundation

Aggression Series

Position Series

Various Poker Strategies

Mistakes Series